Anthony's Film Review
Beavis and Butt-Head
(TV Series, 1993-1997)
Mike Judge's amusing cartoon show brings the humor of idiocy to a whole new (lower) level...
Whether you love it or hate it, Beavis and Butt-Head, the titular characters of an animated series on the cable channel MTV (Music Television), epitomize the dumbest people in society. Imagine two guys who possess all of the characteristics you don't want to see in other people, especially teenagers. Better yet, here's a question for you. Have you ever dealt with people who are annoying, obnoxious, selfish, uncaring, immature, weird, stupid, destructive, troublesome, irresponsible, amoral, and any other negative adjective you can think of? Well, we all deal with people with maybe one or two bad traits, but a whole list of them?
Let's talk about the main characters of this show in more detail. Beavis is a blonde dude with a massive underbite and a Metallica T-shirt. Butt-Head is a brown-haired guy with a small upper lip and an AC/DC T-shirt. Both of these ugly teenage boneheads live together in one house with no parents around, as if the television set they're always watching has been raising them all along (no different from parents who are around but just don't care about what their kids are watching on TV). They are also obsessed with nachos, heavy metal music, and trying to have sex, and they really don't take seriously anything that requires responsibility, like school and work. (Yes, they actually have jobs, at a fast-food restaurant called Burger World.)
So how in the world could I, plus the die-hard fans of this show, enjoy watching the antics of these two morons? There could be several reasons for this. For one thing, this is a cartoon, not real life, so I am fine with laughing at the misfortunes and ineptitude of Beavis and Butt-Head. Also, it makes fun of the things that annoy me in real life, especially Beavis and Butt-Head's tendency to laugh at anything that sounds remotely dirty or sexual, even something as simple as the word "hard." That leads to one more reason the show is a guilty pleasure: laughter is contagious. When these two guys are chronically laughing (Beavis goes, "Heh heh heh" and Butt-Head goes, "Uh huh huh huh."), you can't help but laugh along AND do so in the same repetitive manner.
Here's another way to look at it. The psychologist known as Sigmund Freud conceived a behavior model with three parts: the id, which represents pleasure-seeking instincts; the ego, which guides the individual in ways that satisfy the id; and the super-ego, which encompasses morality and conscience. In these terms, Beavis and Butt-Head are two guys with unrestrained id. Any trace of ego to achieve their goals would come pretty much from Butt-Head, the one who is more rational but nevertheless way dumber than the average idiot. And obviously, the two guys have no super-ego to speak of.
The typical format of a Beavis and Butt-Head episode goes like this. Within a half-hour time slot, the show presents one or two episodes in which Beavis and Butt-Head are involved in some kind of situation. Their brain-dead perspectives often lead them to do things unsuccessfully and idiotically to our amusement. No matter what happens, the episode is interrupted with music videos during which Beavis and Butt-Head are providing mindless commentary. After all, the show is on MTV. Still, the music videos are actually my least favorite part of the show, because I want to see these two guys make fools of themselves.
Here are some examples of this. In the episode "Ding Dong Ditch," Beavis and Butt-Head are playing a prank in which they ring the doorbell of a house and run away before someone answers the door. The duo keep screwing up, because at different houses, they forget to run away, run away but forget to ring the doorbell first, or get the trick right when nobody is home. Other situations include taking money from an ATM without remorse, Beavis turning into a manic alter ego nonsensically raving about his anus ("The Great Cornholio"), and joyriding on a steamroller. Characters who often deal with B&B include the memory-impaired neighbor Tom Anderson, the gentle hippie teacher David Van Driessen, the militant gym teacher Buzzcut, and the nervous school principal McVicker, all of who are voiced by the show's creator Mike Judge.
The show is not without controversy. In real life, there have been two instances where young children have tragically died from other kids doing what Beavis and Butt-Head have done on the show. One involved a five-year-old boy setting fire to his mother's trailer, killing a two-year-old girl, and the other involved dropping a bowling ball from a great height, killing an eight-year-old child. Whether the involved individuals actually had cable TV, and therefore access to B&B, is not my concern, and neither am I basing my rating for this show based on youngsters who shouldn't be watching B&B. Any review I write is based only within the context of the intended audience, which, in this case, consists of mature individuals.
Overall, Beavis and Butt-Head is not a bad show. It's certainly entertaining. I'm not really giving it too high of a rating just because of the predictable nature of the show. No matter how many different situations Beavis and Butt-Head get themselves into, you can pretty much guess what they're going to be laughing about. In other words, once you know how these boys think, you can often anticipate the next joke shortly before it comes. At the same time, there is a clever satire underneath it all. In a world where a culture of television and other things have turned our youth into a dumber generation, one cannot help but wonder how far this could last. But whatever happens, we can always laugh about it, thanks to the (I hate to say it) likable idiots known as Beavis and Butt-Head.
For more information about Beavis and Butt-Head, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of the spin-off film Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.